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Five-Paragraph Essay

When it comes to writing essays in college, we all need a place to start. Think of the five-paragraph essay as just that. Some students may find this to be a simple process, while others may spend a greater amount of time understanding this basic building block of college writing. Whatever the case, use the following guidelines to strengthen your knowledge of this preliminary essay format. Five-paragraph essays are incredibly useful in two situations — when writers are just starting out and when a writing assignment is timed.

The five-paragraph essay has three basic parts: introduction , body , and conclusion .

The introduction is the first paragraph of the essay, and it serves several purposes. This paragraph gets your reader's attention, develops the basic ideas of what you will cover, and provides the thesis statement for the essay. The thesis statement is usually only one sentence and is made up of the topic, focus, and three main points of the essay.

Each body paragraph should start with a transition — either a word or phrase, like First , or Another important point is . Then, the first sentence should continue with your topic sentence. The topic sentence tells your reader what the paragraph is about, like a smaller-level thesis statement. The rest of the paragraph will be made of supporting sentences. These sentences, at least four of them, will explain your topic sentence to your reader.

Be sure that each sentence in the paragraph directly addresses both your topic sentence and your thesis statement. If you have a point to make that is not directly connected to the topic sentence, it does not belong in the paragraph. You might write a different paragraph on that other point, but you may not stick it into any old paragraph just because you thought of it at that point. (You can't stick a red towel into a load of white laundry without causing damage to the rest of the clothes, and you can't stick a point that' off-topic into a paragraph without doing damage to the rest of the essay. Keep your laundry and your paragraph points separate!)

The conclusion is the last paragraph of the essay. This paragraph brings the essay to a close, reminds the reader of the basic ideas from the essay, and restates the thesis statement. The conclusion should not contain new ideas, as it is the summation of the content of the essay. The restatement of the thesis is a simpler form that the one originally presented in the introduction.

An outline is often used to demonstrate the content of most five-paragraph essays:

Before we finish, it is important to remember that the format of the five-paragraph essay is the foundation of nearly every other essay you'll write. When you get ready to write longer papers, remember that the job of the introduction and conclusion are just the same as they are in the five-paragraph essay. Also, when you write longer papers, change your idea of support from three body paragraphs to three (or two or four) body sections, with as many paragraphs as necessary in each section (just as you had as many sentences you needed in each body paragraph).

Below is an example of a 5-paragraph essay. Notice how the essay follows the outline.

Outline of this essay:

Enjoying Your Camping Trip

Each year, thousands of people throughout the United States choose to spend their vacations camping in the great outdoors. Depending on an individual's sense of adventure, there are various types of camping to choose from, including log cabin camping, recreational vehicle camping, and tent camping. Of these, tent camping involves "roughing it" the most, and with proper planning the experience can be gratifying. Even with the best planning, however, tent camping can be an extremely frustrating experience due to uncontrolled factors such as bad weather, wildlife encounters, and equipment failures.

Nothing can dampen the excited anticipation of camping more than a dark, rainy day. Even the most adventurous campers can lose some of their enthusiasm on the drive to the campsite if the skies are dreary and damp. After reaching their destination, campers must then "set up camp" in the downpour. This includes keeping the inside of the tent dry and free from mud, getting the sleeping bags situated dryly, and protecting food from the downpour. If the sleeping bags happen to get wet, the cold also becomes a major factor. A sleeping bag usually provides warmth on a camping trip; a wet sleeping bag provides none. Combining wind with rain can cause frigid temperatures, causing any outside activities to be delayed. Even inside the tent problems may arise due to heavy winds. More than a few campers have had their tents blown down because of the wind, which once again begins the frustrating task of "setting up camp" in the downpour. It is wise to check the weather forecast before embarking on camping trips; however, mother nature is often unpredictable and there is no guarantee bad weather will be eluded.

Another problem likely to be faced during a camping trip is run-ins with wildlife, which can range from mildly annoying to dangerous. Minor inconveniences include mosquitoes and ants. The swarming of mosquitoes can literally drive annoyed campers indoors. If an effective repellant is not used, the camper can spend an interminable night scratching, which will only worsen the itch. Ants do not usually attack campers, but keeping them out of the food can be quite an inconvenience. Extreme care must be taken not to leave food out before or after meals. If food is stored inside the tent, the tent must never be left open. In addition to swarming the food, ants inside a tent can crawl into sleeping bags and clothing. Although these insects cause minor discomfort, some wildlife encounters are potentially dangerous. There are many poisonous snakes in the United States, such as the water moccasin and the diamond-back rattlesnake. When hiking in the woods, the camper must be careful where he steps. Also, the tent must never be left open. Snakes, searching for either shade from the sun or shelter from the rain, can enter a tent. An encounter between an unwary camper and a surprised snake can prove to be fatal. Run-ins can range from unpleasant to dangerous, but the camper must realize that they are sometimes inevitable.

Perhaps the least serious camping troubles are equipment failures; these troubles often plague families camping for the first time. They arrive at the campsite at night and haphazardly set up their nine-person tent. They then settle down for a peaceful night's rest. Sometime during the night the family is awakened by a huge crash. The tent has fallen down. Sleepily, they awake and proceed to set up the tent in the rain. In the morning, everyone emerges from the tent, except for two. Their sleeping bag zippers have gotten caught. Finally, after fifteen minutes of struggling, they free themselves, only to realize another problem. Each family member's sleeping bag has been touching the sides of the tent. A tent is only waterproof if the sides are not touched. The sleeping bags and clothing are all drenched. Totally disillusioned with the "vacation," the frustrated family packs up immediately and drives home. Equipment failures may not seem very serious, but after campers encounter bad weather and annoying pests or wild animals, these failures can end any remaining hope for a peaceful vacation.

These three types of camping troubles can strike campers almost anywhere. Until some brilliant scientist invents a weather machine to control bad weather or a kind of wildlife repellant, unlucky campers will continue to shake their fists in frustration. More than likely, equipment will continue to malfunction. Even so, camping continues to be a favorite pastime of people all across the United States. If you want camping to be a happy experience for you, learn to laugh at leaky tents, bad weather, and bugs, or you will find yourself frustrated and unhappy.

Print this handout by clicking here for download .

What Is a Five Paragraph Essay?

Because a five-paragraph essay is a chosen vehicle for measuring a student’s writing proficiency, it is essential that each master this patterned format writing to score well.

What Is a 5 Paragraph Essay?

Students at the college or university level are often required to write essays as part of an exam or as a general writing-composition assignment. Unless an assignment calls for a more in-depth composition ( persuasive essay , research paper, dissertation), or if a written exam instructs otherwise, more than likely the student is to respond to a question or write on a topic in the form of a five-paragraph essay. While many students are taught in high school how to write this particular type of essay, it may seem a foreign concept to others.

Students must be able to apply these skills and their knowledge of that material in the form of an essay. An essay of this sort may have them making an argument, or simply conveying information on a given topic, to their instructor or professor.

In most instances, whether for an exam or an assignment, instructions will not always specify that the student responds to a question in the form of this particular kind of essay – “Respond to the following questions in a five-paragraph essay.” Unless students are asked to write longer-type papers, or responses in brief one-paragraph segments in exams, writing a five-paragraph essay may be the safest approach – and it is always beneficial to know the formula for writing one.

5 Paragraph Essay Outline

An essay can be written in just FIVE paragraphs. Here is a detailed information about a 5 paragraph essay outline.


The first paragraph, the introduction, includes an opening, topical sentence as a way to ease the reader into the essay; secondly, this paragraph states the topic (a text, book, article, or issue, etc.) being examined in an accompanying thesis statement, a single-sentence summary of the argument the student is making in the rest of the paper – the claim the student is making about the topic. If it’s not an argument the student is making, it is best if they view the thesis statement as a declaration or theory that is put forward as a premise for the rest of the paper.

Body Paragraphs

Often referred to as “the meat of the essay,” the next three paragraphs support and evidence the thesis statement . Each one usually begins with some kind of transition (first of all, secondly, lastly) and a topic sentence to keep the reader’s focus on the topic at hand – and each one includes very pertinent information and in no particular order: each paragraph needs to restate the thesis but in a different way than it was originally written in the introduction without diluting the original argument.

Once again, each of these body paragraphs serves to evidence the thesis – to build a stronger argument for the student making the case of something.

Each of these body paragraphs, usually, are to include a quote, or paraphrase, or summary, as well as a commentary on how these points of evidence defend or make a stronger argument. Also known as the body paragraphs, the three paragraphs take on different aspects or elements of a story or topic – whatever is needed to defend the thesis – and always tie into the argument being made.

The conclusion paragraph restates, in a clever way, the argument first declared in the introductory paragraph and summarizes the most important points that comprised the three body paragraphs. By this time, the student, if they have made a valid argument with this five-paragraph essay, will have convinced the reader (most likely the professor or instructor) that their argument is valid.

Again, a 5 paragraph essay format is used to argue a position in a thorough, persuasive manner; and, in some entry-level composition courses, a professor will require their students to submit papers in this genre to build the student’s analytical and writing skills and to demonstrate their understanding of a given topic.

If you are going to write a five-paragraph essay and would like to receive quality academic guidance and assistance, we are happy to help. We have experts in writing all kinds of essay types and guarantee you a quality of service. Rest assured: your paper will be properly written and formatted, will contain only recent research data and will be fully original. We guarantee you total customer satisfaction – to inform the details of your assignment, place an order .



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How to Write a Five-Paragraph College Essay

T he five-paragraph essay is the basic starting point for college essay writing. It’s a widely accepted essay format, is used in many college English classes, and is also the type of essay you’ll write as part of the CLEP College Composition exam.

While there are many useful formats for writing college-level essays, the five-paragraph essay is an effective model to follow as you develop and polish your composition skills. Here are some guidelines to help you strengthen your knowledge of this format, which will be especially helpful if you’re completing a timed writing assignment for a CLEP OR DSST exam.

How to Write a Five-Paragraph College Essay

The first paragraph of your essay should be an introductory paragraph that includes your thesis statement. The thesis statement is generally one sentence that offers a concise summary of the main point or claim of your essay. Your introductory paragraph should also explain to your readers how you will prove your thesis within the body of your essay.

While the American colonies were fighting for independence from Great Britain, thereby severing the American-British relationship, an equally vital relationship of a different nature was being forged throughout the course of the war between the future United States of America and France.

The second, third, and fourth paragraphs make up the body of your essay, and will be used to support your thesis, with each paragraph supporting a main point that you are trying to make. College-level essays usually focus on analyzing and interpreting information, rather than a restating of facts, which is more common in high school writing. You’ll want to make a clear argument to support your thesis and provide evidence to back it up.

When writing the body of your essay (paragraphs 2-4), you should create a topic sentence to summarize the point you are trying to make in each of the paragraphs. Each sentence in a paragraph should support the topic sentence and your thesis statement, using quotes, facts, examples, and concrete statistics.

France, possessing a bitterness after its own defeat to Great Britain in the Seven Years’ War between 1754 and 1763, was eager to prove to the world its strength against the British empire by joining the American colonists’ struggle in an open sign of bloody revenge against its reviled foe, Great Britain.

And finally, the conclusion — which sums up your essay. This fifth paragraph will bring the essay to a close and remind the reader of the main ideas and arguments that you’ve presented. The conclusion will also restate the thesis statement without being redundant, usually in a simpler form than the one presented in the introductory paragraph.

The ability of the colonies to ultimately defeat the British was only possible after the French persistently supported the valiant American cause. This created the bonds of the French-American relationship and sowed the seeds for future cooperation. This linked destiny has proven itself in trade, military, and politics, making the French-American relationship arguably, the more impactful bond tested in the Revolutionary War.

It is important to remember that the five-paragraph essay format is just a foundation — a great format to use when polishing your academic writing or crafting essays for timed exams. As your writing becomes more complex, you’ll find that you naturally move beyond the five-paragraph essay format.

Use it as a stepping stone as you move toward more advanced college-level writing. No matter what major you choose to study, you will need to be able to express yourself clearly in your writing, and the five-paragraph essay is a an important tool to help you achieve this goal.

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